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Simple solution to the enormous cost of homelessness

Author: Craig Bees Published: 25th June 2019 09:19

Simple solution to the enormous cost of homelessness Simple solution to the enormous cost of homelessness Make sure you’re sitting comfortably because what you are about to read should come with a Government health warning.

Between 2013-14 and 2017-18, English Town Halls coughed up a total of £3.87bn for temporary accommodation. Over that period, the annual bill rocketed by 56% (up from £602m five years ago) and if that trend continues, the spend for 2018-19 could well run into 10 figures.

On 31st December 2018, the number of households in temporary accommodation was 83,700, up 5.0% from 79,720 on 31st December 2017.

So what can be done? The answer seems to be quite simple as the UK now has 278,000 vacant homes many of which have been unoccupied for more than ten years. Some of course are holiday homes, but 216,000 have been empty for at least six months indicating that they are uninhabitable or surplus to the owners requirements.

I wrote to the housing minister with a very simple suggestion. Set up nationwide teams of builders and provide each owner of the empty houses a FOC grant for bringing each house up to lettable standards on the basis that they allow the property to be let for at least ten years at an affordable rent.

Once agreement is reached with the property owners, get the builders working on the refurbs and start moving families out of expensive hotels and boarding houses.

This would allow families permanency in good quality affordable housing, create new jobs in many sectors, cutting the level of unemployment even further, increase Government tax receipts and drastically cut the annual cost of providing temporary accommodation.

Each local authority has the ability to offer grants of up to £20,000 (with strings attached) for development of empty/uninhabitable properties that the owner agrees to let.

Have you ever seen this idea advertised or publicised by your local authority? No, I thought not because neither have I. Which is why I am suggesting this is carried out on a national basis in a structured and targeted way that pro-actively notifies every empty homeowner of the scheme and if the property is an eyesore or in dangerous condition, make a compulsory purchase order.

I am sure the take up would snowball and I even offered to write to all those homeowners myself, but guess what? Yes neither local authorities or government are allowed to provide the information required to contact these owners under GDPR (general data protection regulations).

It wouldn’t take a lot of joining up so why isn’t this happening on a national level?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Monthly draw: still time to make this month your chance to win a case of Italian wines (red/whites/mixed) or get one month’s membership to Whittlebury Hall Leisure Club.

How To Enter: every valuation and instruction for sale or rental between now and Friday July 26 will be entered into the draw, the winners being notified by e-mail.

If you’re thinking of selling or letting your property and want to win one of these great prizes on offer call (01327) 359164 and speak to our sales or lettings team.

Until next time.

Craig Bees, MD Bartram & Co

E-mail me at craigbees@bartramandco.co.uk

Visit our website www.bartramandco.co.uk and follow us on Twitter@bartramandcotow

Tel: (01327) 359164

Fax: (01327) 359166

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